ALSPAC – Preventing Gambling Problems in Young People

Gambling is any form of risk-taking where a person stakes something of value on an event that is determined mainly by chance. The outcome can range from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot. Although people commonly think of casinos and slot machines when they think about gambling, it is also possible to gamble in other places like restaurants, gas stations, church halls, or even on the Internet. Gambling can also involve betting on sports events, such as football, horse racing or boxing, or buying lottery tickets.

People may gamble because they want to win a prize, or they might do it to pass the time or relieve boredom. However, gambling can become a serious problem if it is not controlled and can lead to debt, bankruptcy, relationship problems and other health issues. It can also cause addiction, which is a medical disorder characterized by compulsive behavior.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are many things people can do to help them manage their gambling habits. They can try to stop gambling completely, limit how much they gamble or seek professional help if they cannot stop on their own. They can also learn to recognise their triggers and avoid situations where they might gamble. They can also try to reduce financial risks by getting rid of credit cards, having someone else be in charge of their finances and closing online betting accounts. They should also only gamble with disposable income and not money that is needed for bills or rent.

Other ways to prevent a gambling problem include staying away from places where people gamble, not using gambling as a way to socialise, and finding healthier activities to relieve boredom or unpleasant feelings such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble and taking up new hobbies. People who have a gambling problem can also find support from other people with similar problems by attending a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Participants in the ALSPAC study were invited to attend a research clinic when they were about 17 years old (2009-2011). They completed confidential computer-administered surveys about their gambling and risk-taking experiences. The survey was repeated when the young people were about 20 years old and 24 years old. The data from the first survey was analysed using trajectory models with the latent class variable ‘gambling’, which allowed for longitudinal comparisons of characteristics associated with gambling. However, there was considerable attrition from the original sample of 17-year-olds and multiple imputation techniques were used to minimise the bias from missing data. Consequently, the analyses of characteristics associated with gambling were probably underestimated. It is therefore important that future studies examine the prevalence and predictors of gambling among a more representative cohort of young people.